The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business people. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you cannot learn in a classroom. We want to thank our interviewee for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.
I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz, Monday.
Can you please tell everyone your name?
Ha, would be quite the interview otherwise! I’m Tanvir Islam.
What is your job role?
I’m the CEO and one of the founders of Errunds. I also wear many hats, well maybe not physically. Don’t like to mess up my hair. However, I’m also the Head of Product and Marketing.
Tell us about your company?
We’re an online community marketplace connecting shoppers to businesses in their local community. We make it easier for you discover and carry out transactions from the brick and mortars in your neighborhood.
Think of the last time you went to a brick and mortar business. Doesn’t matter what… bodega, drug store, convenience store etc. You can agree that you either had to deal with a long line, difficulty in searching for an item, overthinking an item’s cost/ quality or just getting pissed at having to pay a credit card minimum since you didn’t have cash on you if not something else. On the flip side, business owners are struggling to get customers in and grow their businesses.
That’s whom we’re helping and exactly what we’re trying to fix.
What do you love most about your job?
Every person I sit across from for an interview to join Errunds has probably heard me say that early stage startups are unique because working for one isn’t just about building the startup but also about building yourself as well. That’s something I hold myself responsible for every employee we onboard but that’s also something I love with my role at Errunds.
Doing everything from leading a super diverse team in product management to meeting with different stakeholders and fostering partnerships lets me grow myself while I push the needle an inch forward every day. Working different roles and meeting different people also allow me to gain a ton of exposure to make sure every day is interesting and isn’t exactly like the day before.
What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
So a pretty smart man once said that an object in motion would stay in motion. Moreover, that’s pretty much been the theme Errunds had from day 1. Whether it be being able to enlist potential customers to pilot our beta, finishing the first set of product mockups or taking critical steps in launching our MVP, momentum is something that pushes us to keep on working.
However, what keeps me motivated is the surreal feeling that we’re creating a product that will improve the lives of many people. Using our Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms we’re personalizing experiences in the community to best suit user’s specific interests. So we make it so that a Brooklynite health-nut will now be paired with every juice bar and yoga studio suiting their interest resulting in minimum searching and maximum enjoyment. Simply put, we make it so that regardless of who you are you can find something to enjoy in your neighborhood. Moreover, that’s’ in our pursuits of creating a world where everyone feels a sense of home and belonging in his or her community.
On the flip side, we’re also focused on helping small businesses and preserving local brick and mortars as the bedrocks of our community by spreading their stories and bringing more customers into their storefronts.
How do your co-workers inspire you?
The simple rule in recruiting for startups is to bring on people smarter than you. Always. Also, that overlaps with a personal mantra of mine to spend time with people who know more than me. So, running Errunds and leading our team gives me great professional and personal satisfaction.
On a daily, sure, I’m exposed to technical skills from backend development to UX design principles from different team members, but what excites me is seeing their unique ways in approaching problems and ways in doing things. Our discourses allow me to have a multitude of perspectives which always help in assessing complex problems and finding a new way to stab them. I’m also able to be a sponge and get exposed to a variety of my team’s interpersonal traits such as resilience, grind, and grit as we make strides.
Lastly, validation. Everyone working for Errunds understands our macro vision but has their reasons in contributing. They can connect with the vision and find a place for themselves in getting on the rocket ship we’re on which, ultimately, fuels us to reach our vision faster. Just the type of stuff to have you feeling warm and fuzzy in the inside.
How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
At Errunds, you’ll be quick to see that you’re not getting a corporate vibe. We’re a group of sarcastic and quirky individuals meshing over roasting each other but also over finding ways to create innovation.
Our conversations may branch out to anything from Turkish food, mumble-rap or even the Peloponnesian wars (yeah that happened a couple of times) but always stem back to our mission of trying to find ways to build authentic and real community today.
We also use our WhatsApp groups to push each other on accountabilities and to stay on top of what’s happening in tech from Brex becoming a unicorn to YC’s top 100 valuable startup list.
Oh yeah, all of this sounds great ‘till you completely get humiliated by David, our CTO, in a game of ping-pong.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
Startups are often a double-edged sword. It’s great cause you’re doing everything and it’s hard cause you’re doing everything. Often this also comes with deadlines for deliverables for multiples stakeholders which keep the cortisol up at an all-time high.
Living with uncertainty is also super tough. While running a startup, you’re moving through dark tunnels, and although you know you are making progress while putting in work, you don’t know when one tunnel ends and when another one begins. It’s a huge mental game most days combatting uncertainty.
However, it’s also probably the best opportunity to sharpen your swords and to gain humility. Not to mention the best first-hand reminders on learning to balance, meditate and be self-aware. The perfect boot camp for the mind.
What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Perfect is the enemy of done. Alternatively, whatever that phrase is meant to be. The point is, when I first started ideating Errunds, I was OBSESSED in trying to make everything perfect and in doing so I spent copious amounts of time perfecting Business Model canvas’s, questionnaires for Customer Discovery and pretty much everything else under the sun.
However, when consulting with startup founders and directors at accelerators, I realized I was approaching it all wrong, and the over-diligence was getting in the way and preventing me from actually making progress in making something people wanted. Instead, I was creating something I wanted after being consumed in a cloud of my own bias. I realized that the biggest metric I have is time and that perfection of ideas is the last thing I should be using to measure growth let alone success. The whole experience taught me to embrace “okay” and to be content with “not-perfect” and instead to work with customers in attaining “perfect.”
Maybe in a future Linkedin article, I’ll probably put a magnifying glass on this and write about it to see it for what it is; a deeper educational system problem that encourages a fixed mindset of perfection instead of a growth mindset shooting for it. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Startups are hard. The Grind. The sacrifices. The loneliness. It probably would make more sense short-term not to do it. Think of the costs, the difficulty, the struggles…
However, amidst all this, you HAVE to find your WHY, and then you make it work and once you do you realize how rewarding the whole journey is.
Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
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